MEA silent on third party mediation but Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Qureshi talks of ‘sittings’
India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are focused on post-COVID recovery, said External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar on Sunday. The visit by Mr. Jaishankar drew attention as his visit overlapped with that of Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. The Minister met his counterpart from UAE Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who also met with Mr. Qureshi. The meetings came amidst strong speculation that the Gulf country was mediating to restart dialogue between India and Pakistan.
“Took forward our ongoing discussions on this subject (bilateral cooperation), starting on February. The strong focus on post-COVID economic recovery will remain a priority for us,” said Mr. Jaishankar, indicating India’s concern about re-employment of nationals who lost jobs in the Gulf country during the pandemic and are now waiting to return to their previous positions.
While the MEA has maintained silence about exchanges, the Foreign Minister of Pakistan Mr Qureshi in an interview to Gulf News has talked about “sittings” that have taken place in the UAE during the last few days.
Mr Jaishankar’ visit lasted a day while Mr. Qureshi’s visit lasted from April 17-19.
This was the first time that Pakistan has given a strong hint of the third party-led talks in the India-Pakistan ties. Mr. Qureshi said Pakistan “always welcomes third party mediation whether it is UAE or any other country”. He, however, denied meeting Mr’. Jaishankar.
“Now, we have to see what the way forward is and how we can sit and talk as two neighbours to sort out our issues. I can assure you that Pakistan is ready to talk, provided India revisits the decision on Jammu and Kashmir, which in our opinion is not only illegal but also unilateral,” Gulf News quoted Mr. Qureshi saying.
The Foreign Minister of UAE also met with Mr Qureshi as the two sides geared up for a list of activities to mark the 50th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic relations.
India and Pakistan last made contact in December 2015 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid an unexpected visit to the family home of the previous Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif. The brief bonhomie which began with Mr. Sharif’s visit to Delhi in May 2014 ended after a series of terror strikes that India blamed on Pakistan-based elements.
Following the September 29, 2016 “surgical strike” along the Line of Control, the ties went further downhill in February 2019 because of the Pulwama terror attack. Pakistan has been consistent in its demand that India should reverse the changes carried out in administration of Kashmir on August 5, 2019. India has maintained that going back on its decision to end the special status of Kashmir is not a possibility.